How this idea was developed
Our shared intelligence idea is based on conversations, workshops and research with numerous charities and funders who have taken part in our Rethink Rebuild initiative. Here’s what we’ve learnt from this work.
How data is changing
We have seen progress in how charities and funders are using data in recent years, some of which has been given new impetus as a result of the pandemic. From our workshops and our research, we are seeing:
More openness: Although greater data sharing was already an increasing trend in the sector, in some areas it has been accelerated by the pandemic. Various resources and repositories were made available in response to the crisis, such as the British Red Cross Covid-19 Vulnerability Index, Citizens Advice Consumer Advice Trends Dashboards and of course, the government’s Covid-19 dashboard. NPC also responded with our collaborative Local Needs Databank.
More collaboration: Multi-agency shared intelligence and situation analysis is increasingly understood to be vital to good decisions about where and how to direct support and resources. The most impressive example of this in the UK is perhaps the Grant Nav interactive data platform by 360 Giving, as it was co-designed by data contributors, with data shared by institutional and independent funders around the country.
More localised: The more localised these collective data initiatives are, the more granular the data can be, and therefore the more instructive they are in guiding local decision-makers. We’re seeing exciting growth in these local data initiatives, such as:
- Community Action: MK – A multi-agency project in Milton Keynes funded by Catalyst to develop a digital tool for community intelligence gathering.
- Sheffield Data for Good – A data initiative led by Sheffield Digital to unearth insights from Sheffield’s voluntary and community organisations.
- BD Collective – A group of social sector organisations in Barking and Dagenham joining forces to address local challenges, develop initiatives, share good practice, and showcase success.
- Urban Health Index – The Urban Health Index provides information using the most recent data available on 68 neighbourhoods in Lambeth and Southwark, based on 42 indicators relating to basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing, and opportunity.
More dynamic: When you’re asking what’s changing on the ground, the most useful data is often the most recent data. During the pandemic up-to-date data on infections, needs and behaviour has been critical in managing the response. It also showed that data-sharing and situation analysis can be done quicker than perhaps previously thought. Examples include the Local Needs Databank, Covid-19 Mutual Aid Groups, and CAF’s Covid-19 Giving analysis.
More to do…
Although we have seen some progress on data sharing by charities, funders and government spurred by the pandemic, there is still much more that could be done to ensure it is used for effective decision-making and better social impact:
More qualitative: Numbers only tell part of the story. Other forms of information and experience are increasingly being shared, but integrating this into data-sharing initiatives will be critical to their further utility. Much of the data collected and shared doesn’t help answer fundamental questions such as what strengths and assets communities have, what support and resources people want, what services can meet the gaps, and so on. Putting the user at the heart of data can help answer these questions.
More focus on use: While there’s been increasing focus on the ‘supply-side’ of data-sharing initiatives, we need to do more to improve their usability for those without the time or technical skills to understand and analyse a data resource. We need to help people understand and learn from data resources and build those insights into their everyday work. We also need to understand – and gather data on – how these data resources are being used, so we can continually improve them.
More inclusive: Demographic and contextual data about people’s identities and circumstances has been a focal point in discussions about how to use data to better capture, identify and address social inequities. We explored this pressing issue in our piece on equalities data.
Our Rethink data work has identified solutions for how we can start to move from shared data to shared intelligence, building on the progress we’ve seen during the pandemic, so we can start tackling the remaining challenges.